The Paranoid Style in Russian Politics

Russian leaders have a long history of employing bizarre and elaborate conspiracy theories, often involving Jews, to explain their country’s problems. Such theories have resurfaced with vigor of late. Walter Laqueur tries to explain the origins of this fantastical understanding of world affairs:

[N]ot all statements, ideas, and theories which are manifestly absurd are deliberately fabricated and cynically exploited as part of a wider propaganda campaign. Some, as in contemporary Russia, are genuinely believed for reasons that have been insufficiently investigated. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a product of deliberate fabrication, and the same is true of the “Doctors’ Plot” in Stalin’s final year. But both the Protocols and the story of the Jewish “killer doctors” were believed by many, and the question of why they were so widely believed is not easy to answer.

There is a widespread tendency . . . to believe in occult, hidden forces which are the real shakers and movers in world politics, whereas those about whom we read and hear in the media are merely their puppets. . . . This belief in the hidden hand and the forces of evil tends to be particularly strong in times of great upheaval. The Protocols were not really influential during the first two decades of their existence. But after World War I and the Russian Revolution, events of world-historical importance which could not easily be explained, the Protocols were widely read and often believed because they seemed to offer a key to otherwise inexplicable events.

Read more at Standpoint

More about: Anti-Semitism, Doctors' Plot, Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Russia, Soviet Union, Vladimir Putin

Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation